Use of 1-mcp to improve shelf life and fruit quality: opportunities and challenges

Background

1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropane) is a cyclical propane with the molecular formula C4H6. It is a volatile gas at standard temperature and pressure.

1-MCP has a very relevant commercial application due to its similar structure to ethylene (C2H4)

Ethylene is a gas produced naturally by plants at minute quantities throughout their life and acts as a plant hormone

Ethylene stimulates various processes such as ripening of climacteric fruit, the opening of flowers, the yellowing and shedding of leaves and loss of chlorophyll in fruits

The mechanism of action of 1-MCP is based on its tight binding to the ethylene receptor in plants, thereby blocking the negative effects of ethylene.

Commercial application
There are two principal commercial uses of 1-MCP today: maintaining the freshness of ornamental plants and flowers, and delaying the ripening of fruits. 1-MCP is applied in enclosed indoor sites, such as cold storage facilities and shipping containers

Under the brand name EthylBloc, 1-MCP was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on ornamental crops. It is used with cut flowers, potted flowers, and bedding, nursery and foliage plants to prevent premature wilting, leaf yellowing, premature opening, and premature death

Under the brand name SmartFresh, 1-MCP is used in the agriculture industry by growers, packers, and shippers to maintain the quality of fruits and vegetables by preventing or delaying the natural ripening process. The use of 1-MCP in agricultural products including apples, kiwifruit, tomatoes, bananas, plums, persimmons, avocados and melons has been approved and accepted for use in more than 34 countries including the European Union and the United States


1-MCP is also being developed as a new crop protection technique under the brand name Invinsa, and commercialized by Syngenta. By spraying 1-MCP on growing field crops during times of stress, the crops may be protected from moderate heat and drought conditions



Opportunities and challlenges in the use of 1-MCP

1-MCP offers an excellent opportunity in other fruits and vegetables for extension of shelf life and senescence.

One great area of application is in green and leafy vegetables to prevent yellowing. Particularly broccli, cucumber, green herbs and other green vegetables offer great potential.

In the area of fruits, stone fruits are very limited in shelf life. The application of 1-MCP offers great potential for extension of shelf life and to reach longer distance markets.

The greatest challenge in the application of 1-MCP can be in the treatment dosage in relation to the maturity stage. Fruit picked too early and treated with 1-MCP may never reach full maturity. Fruit too mature may not respond enough to the treatment to justify the expense in relation to the extension of shelf life.

Calculating the right dose in relation to the maturity stage and developing a useful practical method for deciding application dosage at the packingstation are sme of the keys to the further development of this product.


Copyright 2011 Dr. Manuel Madrid


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